Amateur Telescope Making & other do it yourself projects

ATM & other do it yourself projects

Making a heated computer mat for use outside

Now I am in the business of taking astrophotography, this means my favourite laptop is sittong outside in the cold and damp.

Hence, the need to create a heated computer mat to keep it comfy! Also stops it turning off in the cold.

Composed of two x vivsrium heating mats and one of those plastic mats with lots of holes for putting pots on when you take them off the stove – the mats produce vs. 13W each and the holey mat covering them allows heat through and any moisture to drain away as well as ensuring plenty of ventilation for bottom of laptop.

Andy

mobile base for EQ6/HEQ5 completed

At last! My mobile base for my EQ6 is completed. Someone will note slightly extended legs and wonder why…..answer is that base is designed to take either EQ6 as is currently on it or HEQ5- and the tripod on HEQ5 (same as EQ5 tripod but different from EQ6 tripod) has long legs and wider spread than EQ6 tripod.

Andy

Painting/staining of new HEQ5/EQ6 mobile base with Cuprinol now completed

Two layers of Cuprinol later (left over from my wife’s fence painting project earlier in the year), the new mobile wooden HEQ5/EQ6 will be ready for vanishing with yacht varnish once it dries – and with high humidity levels at present and low temperatures I think it might take a few days before it properly dries out from the water based Cuprinol. That’s the price you pay for using left over stuff!

Andy

Making base for HEQ5/EQ6 Andy & Alan+Angella from RAG 3/9/2019

Now that I am doing astrophotography, it is important that I create stable, mobile base to allow me to roll the mount in and out of the log cabin. The more that can remain set-up between sessions, the easier it will be to image – especially important in the UK as weather liable to deteriorate again quickly.

Angella & Alan came around today and helped me build a fantastic base – thanks Angella & Alan!

Andy

Paul McKay’s right angle polarscope viewer for HEQ5 Pro/EQ6 Pro mount

Paul has come up with this ingenious solution to the problem of a cricked neck when looking through the polarscope on these popular Sky Watcher mounts.

The photos below show how the 90 degree viewer and fitting are assembled, noting the nut used to clamp it together.
Paul has very kindly made one of these for me using a second hand Nikon DR3 right angle camera attachment off ebay (approx. £6). He has made the hole in the plastic fitting a tight fit on the short thread of the DR3 such that no nut is needed. He has learnt how to carefully enlage the bore of the plastic fitting so it is a snug fit in the polarscope eyepiece…a bit tedious because it’s trial and error and must be done very carefully to ensure that the bore is not accidently made too large. Patience needed and lots of cups ot tea! The finished product is a tight fit and needs screwing onto the thread of the viewer. It should be a snug push fit onto the polarscope eyepiece. Paul used a 32mm Waste Compression End Plug costing £1.50 from “Discount DIY Store”, Swadlincote High Street, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, UK.
In use: Fit collar to viewer first, then push it onto polarscope eyepiece as far as possible – see photo. Try different angular positions if its too tight to go on. The collar should go over the eyepiece and over the polarscope tube as well.
To focus polarscope, Paul has found that he needs to unscrew eyepiece about 5mm so he fitted an 0-ring onto the thread for eyepiece to clamp against and keep eyepiece tight in the focused position.

Andy

Aperture Mask: Yes. Pluto: Not so much.

Got home from the trustees meeting last night to a glorious clear sky. On a Monday? Really?

I made an aperture mask for my dob over the weekend and was itching to try it out. The idea behind the mask is that on bright targets cutting out a bit of light and diffraction from the secondary struts should improve clarity, even though the aperture is reduced (350 to 160 in this instance).

And so after failing to resist temptation I was setup by 11:20:

Jupiter: Disappeared behind neighbors house. Need to catch it in the gap between house and apple tree 1.

Saturn: Seeing dreadful without mask: boiling away with no clarity at all. With the mask: same but dimmer. Hmmm.

Pluto: Spent ages looking for this. Definitely in the right place. Pluto formed a triangle asterism with two other faint stars. I upped the magnification to dim the sky glow and there was definitely something there. Wobbled the scope – that helped. Averted vision- didn’t make much difference. So- I’ve looked at Pluto but not seen it! Beginning to regret doing this on a work night…

Jupiter again. Behind apple tree 1. That moved quick! Damn!

Izar: At last- some success. Successively improved views moving from Baader zoom to binoviewers to adding aperture mask. In the final view the stars were pinpoint sharp and well separated with the companion showing a lovely blue.

Double double: the same experience. The 2 pairs were easily separated in all 3 configurations, but the binoviewers plus aperture mask gave the best view.

M13: Too dim for the mask, the best view was in the binoviewers- resolving all the way to the core and seemingly spherical, even though at that distance you don’t really have depth perception!

Jupiter again: Gotcha! Just before it snuck behind apple tree 2… Definitely a better view with the aperture mask- slightly dimmer but with much more clarity. 6 bands plus the GRS were clearly visible, with some detailing on the bands, plus the moons spread out as clear disks 3 to one side and one on the other.

Well worth the fatigue today!

Very pleased with the aperture mask- it’s not often an astro upgrade is almost free. It’s only really good for bright objects and with the binoviewers I had to velcro 4kgs onto the bottom of the tube to balance it- bit well worth the hassle!